Department

Astronomy

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2006

Abstract

The Mars Exploration Rovers investigated numerous craters in Gusev crater and Meridiani Planum during the first ∼400 sols of their missions. Craters vary in size and preservation state but are mostly due to secondary impacts at Gusev and primary impacts at Meridiani. Craters at both locations are modified primarily by eolian erosion and infilling and lack evidence for modification by aqueous processes. Effects of gradation on crater form are dependent on size, local lithology, slopes, and availability of mobile sediments. At Gusev, impacts into basaltic rubble create shallow craters and ejecta composed of resistant rocks. Ejecta initially experience eolian stripping, which becomes weathering-limited as lags develop on ejecta surfaces and sediments are trapped within craters. Subsequent eolian gradation depends on the slow production of fines by weathering and impacts and is accompanied by minor mass wasting. At Meridiani the sulfate-rich bedrock is more susceptible to eolian erosion, and exposed crater rims, walls, and ejecta are eroded, while lower interiors and low-relief surfaces are increasingly infilled and buried by mostly basaltic sediments. Eolian processes outpace early mass wasting, often produce meters of erosion, and mantle some surfaces. Some small craters were likely completely eroded/buried. Craters >100 m in diameter on the Hesperian-aged floor of Gusev are generally more pristine than on the Amazonian-aged Meridiani plains. This conclusion contradicts interpretations from orbital views, which do not readily distinguish crater gradation state at Meridiani and reveal apparently subdued crater forms at Gusev that may suggest more gradation than has occurred.

Comments

Published in Journal of Geophysical Research, 111, E02S08, 2006. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2005JE002465/abstract

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Publisher's version

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